Reaching For The Claret Jug- Day Two
In what can only be described as an unseasonably nice day on the southeast coast of England, Royal St. Georges seemed primed for the taking by the field in the Open Championship on Day Two. Temperatures around 70, blue skies, and only a 2 flap wind (British commentator’s relative wind measurement based on the flapping of trouser legs). Given all that, we would have expected a number of people to go low and grab this championship by the collar. But that was not the case-best scores today were three guys at 67 and the leading score at the end of the day was one worse than Day One. There was no evidence of collar in hand.
I guess they did not count on the grounds crew at Royal St. Georges putting the pins in places that seemed to be surrounded by force fields. It was impossible for guys to manage the ball into the area of the cup and keep it there. Royal St. Georges has large greens but in many cases the actual part of the green where they can place the pin is only a third of the surface-the rest has such drastic slope it is unfit for putting. Links can demand ricochet golf especially when the green complexes are full of humps and hollows that redirect the ball once it is on the ground. What we saw to day is that it takes great experience and imagination to figure out where to bank it off the side cushions to get it towards the pocket.
So the result is old salty guys like Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Anders Hansen, Davis Love, and Tom Lehman are occupying half of the top spots on the leaderboard. There are some strong young players in this group-Glover, Campbell, Johnson, Kaymer, Larrazabal, Coetzee, and Schwartzel-but at least four of those are guys who have played links golf most of their careers.
It is clear at this point that Royal St. Georges favors the guys who understand ricochet golf and have the imagination to do it and the patience to accept the arbitrariness of the result. Right intention and good execution will not always end up with a good results. The guys who don’t take this personally will be the ones who succeed when this is all said and done.
Speaking of old dogs and new tricks, we have to shout out to Old Tom who had a Barney Adam’s moment when he holed his 4-iron on the Par 3 sixth hole this morning. Watson’s 15th ace of his career was witnessed by thousands of spectators clinging to the dunes surrounding this hole and it sent them into a state of delirium. Unfortunately the resulting tumult caused Young Tom Lewis to pull hook his approach into the fur left of the green and make a double bogey that jarred him off the rails for the next eight holes.
The weather forecast for the weekend is sketchy-no surprise in that-and this should continue to favor those with experience in the foibles of links golf. But with 31 guys within 4 shots of the lead picking a winner now is about as predictable as the roll out on the sixth green and we saw today how unexpected that result can be.